Rory McIlroy could barely keep the contempt from his voice as he slammed the latest attempt by the Saudis to start a new world tour as ‘nothing more than a money grab.’
The Northern Irishman was at his articulate best as he dismissed the proposals for a ‘Super League Golf’ and accused the Saudis of mischief-making regarding the leaking of their latest moves.
‘I don’t think it was a coincidence that the news came out on Wednesday, just as the PGA Tour was having its annual player meeting and our CEO Jay Monahan was addressing the membership,’ he said.
Rory McIlroy could barely hide contempt from his voice as he slammed ‘Super League golf’
‘I think you all know my feelings, that I am very much against it. I don’t see why anyone would be for it. Just like the European Super League in football, people can see this is nothing more than a money grab.
‘They first contacted me in 2014. So this is seven years down the line and nothing really has changed. Maybe the source of the money has changed, or the people in charge have changed but nothing has really happened.
‘No sponsorship deals, no media deals, no players have signed up, no manufacturers have signed up. It’s a complicated issue but I don’t see at this point how it can get going.
Golf’s biggest names are to be asked to choose between Saudi money and the PGA Tour
‘If you’re only in golf to make as much money as possible then fine, go and do what makes you happy. But I think the top players in the game, and these are my personal beliefs, I’m trying to win majors and the biggest tournaments in the world and cement my place in history. That’s why I’m playing the game.’
McIlroy was ably supported by world number two Justin Thomas, who made it clear that he wouldn’t be swayed by any amount of money to leave the PGA Tour.
In fact, the Florida-based Thomas claimed he hadn’t been approached by the Saudis at all, which was rather at odds with reports that their team of investors have been camped in the Sunshine State for weeks seeking the signatures of the top players.
At the annual meeting, Monahan reiterated that any player who did join up would be suspended immediately from the PGA Tour, with the threat of a lifetime ban.
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley added: ‘We are aligned with the PGA Tour in opposing, in the strongest possible terms, any proposal for an alternative golf league.’
Contract sums offered to the likes of Justin Rose have reportedly risen up to $50m (£36m)
Among those who have been approached are Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson.
The Saudis are waving cheques of upwards of $30 million at each to join their proposed $1 billion circuit. Are any prepared to shred reputations built up over decades in some cases, and reveal themselves as nothing more than avaricious money stooges?
As for McIlroy, the Wells Fargo Championship starting on Thursday in North Carolina is his first tournament since his calamitous showing at the Masters. Is there any chance of his golf catching up with his unimpeachable integrity?
‘I certainly feel better about my game than I did flying away from Augusta,’ he said.